Youth activists from Teens Take Charge will join Black and Latinx youth panelists from all nine Specialized High Schools to discuss the disparities in admissions and in-school racism at a virtual forum on Thursday, May 6 from 5-6:30 p.m.

Every year, very few Black and Latinx students are accepted to New York’s nine Specialized High Schools. This year is no different, with only 9% of offers going to Black and Latinx applicants. Despite being at the center of the controversy, however, Black and Latinx students rarely get a chance to speak on the issue. This Thursday, the 9% will speak out through a lively and innovative forum that will feature Black and Latinx Specialized High School students, alumni, and art performances. The forum will be entirely student-led and will discuss topics including segregation in the admissions process, navigating the admissions process as a Black and/or Latinx student, and the racist culture at Specialized High Schools.

“Black and Latinx students are some of the most impacted by conversations surrounding the Specialized High Schools, yet they are rarely heard. It is critical that young Black and Latinx voices are meaningfully included in this conversation to ensure that Specialized High Schools do not produce worse admissions numbers every year,” said Gabrielle Cayo, a national debate champion and top student at Brooklyn Tech High School.

Students represent all nine Specialized High Schools: Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, Staten Island Tech, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, American Studies, Math Science & Engineering, Queens High School of the Sciences at York College, and Brooklyn Latin.

Participating panelists include Student Government leaders Roberto Quesada, Mamadou Barry, Brianna Gallimore, and Elizabeth Yarde, as well as student activists Sarai Pridgen, Angye Bardales, Sandra Boakye, Kemuel Nunez, Elizabeth Yarde, and Milton Alcivar. Among the panelists are a Yale University Basset Award winner, Speech & Debate Tournament of Champions finalists, student leaders, recognized artists, and top students.

“This forum is a chance for Black and Latinx youth to finally expose the realities of the Specialized High School system, and an opportunity for adults and students to hear the perspectives and voices from those most impacted by the Specialized High School controversy,” said Sarai Pridgen, an activist leader at Stuyvesant High School who runs the Black Students League. “If we hope to create any reform in the admissions process, we need to be able to hear everybody’s perspectives. This is a chance to listen to and include Black and Latinx voices.”

Journalists may submit questions via the chat feature during the panel. Select panelists will make themselves available to the press at the conclusion of the event. 

The event will run from 5-6:30pm on Zoom and you can receive the link by registering in advance at The event will also be live streamed on Teens Take Charge’s YouTube channel.